World Beating Results For Muhammad Ali Paintings At Bonhams

New York – On October 5, a rare collection of original artworks by Muhammad Ali, part of TCM Presents...It's a Knockout Sale by Bonhams Popular Culture department, achieved phenomenal results. 26 of the 28 original paintings sold, making a total of $945,524 – over 3 times the low estimate. The top lot was Sting like a bee which sold for $425,312 which was over 10 times the low estimate and a new world auction record for an Ali original artwork.

The sale as a whole achieved a total of $1,250,666,

Director of Bonhams Popular Culture Department, Helen Hall, said: "It was an honor to offer such a rare and unique opportunity to acquire original works by 'The Greatest of All Time', Muhammad Ali. Naturally, we are delighted with the phenomenal results of today's sale. The artworks depicting subjects close to his heart: boxing, civil rights, religion, world peace and humanitarianism were all treated with equal vigor by bidders, with 26 of the 28 original works selling. Of particular note was, of course, the top lot Sting like a bee which sold for $425,312, ten times the low estimate and a world record at auction for an Ali painting,"

A decorated boxer and celebrated activist, Ali harbored a lifelong passion for the arts. In 1967, the athlete produced a series of drawings for Avant Garde magazine, which serve as visual manifestations of his fervor for civil rights activism. A decade later in 1977, he returned to the craft of artmaking at the encouragement of Rodney Hilton Brown, author of Muhammad Ali: The Untold Story: Painter, Poet & Prophet. The works in this sale come directly from the personal collection of Hilton Brown, and comprised of the largest collection of Ali's artwork to ever be seen at auction.

Highlights from the collection:

• I Love You America, 1979; sold for $150,312.
• The Starving Children of Mississippi, 1967; sold for $12,750.
• The Crowd, 1967; sold for $24,687.
• The Two Religions, 1967; $24,062 (from the Avant Garde magazine series).

Other highlights from the sale include:

A Babe Ruth Baseball Spike From His Red Sox Days (sold for $81,563)

This spike, a gift of Babe Ruth to his manager has a distinctive toe plate that makes it a striking match to the pair Ruth donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, which was their very first acquisition. A talented pitcher for the Boston Red Sox from 1914-1919, Ruth grew unhappy with the lack of playing time afforded pitchers in the regular lineup. After disagreements with management, Ruth's contract was sold to the New York Yankees, where he soon became an icon, and left the Red Sox to deal with the 'Curse of the Bambino' a World Series dry spell that lasted over 80 years.

A Willie Pep Featherweight Championship Belt From The Ring Magazine (sold for $ 12,112)

6 October 2021

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